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the final brief appearance there. and the final end to the benedict papacy comes four hours from now when the doors of gandolfo close and they leave. let's go down to keir simmons covering it all for us. kear, good morning to you. >> reporter: hey, savannah, good morning, the saints looking down on the square have not seen a day like this in medieval times. in the papal palace, over my shoulder here, the pope, as you say, has been meeting were his cardinals, tells them, i'll be with you in prayer. dawn across rome. this city has seen more than 260 pontiffs, only two popes passed in the last thousand years have left like this. the cardinals, princes of the church, gathered this morning for a warm farewell to pope benedict. some cardinals wants to speak to him for as long as possible. pope benedict will resign just after sunset. this home, this beautiful summer palace, quiet after a frantzic few weeks. >> at 8:00 exactly, he will stop being pope, the swiss guards who stand guard outside the palace and he'll go. >> reporter: rough seas he admitted yesterday and now the task begins of choosin
. pope benedict's successor, anne thompson is there with more. good morning, anne. >> reporter: good morning, natalie. the conclave to elect pope benedict's successor is scheduled to begin between march 15th and march 20g9, but there is talk it could be moved up because the karmds who will elect the new pope are coming here to rome to say good-bye to pope benedict february 28th. we should hear some word perhaps this week. asked who will succeed pope benedict the pope himself yesterday set off a flurry of speculation at his weekly blessing when he addressed the crowd in spanish, he asked them to pay praise for himself and the future pope. some wondered was he sending a secret signal that he would prefer to see a pope from latin america? i spoke to a vatican spokesman who said there was no secret signal, just the pope offering a prayer. >> anne thompson, thank you. >> nbc's white house correspondent kristen welker is in port st. lucie, traveling with the president. good morning. >> reporter: good morning, natalie. president obama heads home later today after a weekend of golf, includin
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